It was a minor joyous moment, therefore, when I found these fresh fava beans in H&W Produce today. You never know what you'll find there. These are the first fresh fava beans I have ever seen, anywhere. As you might imagine, I scooped up a pound (what you see above is one pound) and skipped home with them in high delight (and in sunlight--though it was cold, windy sunlight, whatever, it didn't matter, it was sunlight. Edmonton is supposed to be sunny most of the time, the wide open prairie sky and all that). Well.
I already knew what to do with them, because I've been reading about fresh fava beans in Madhur Jaffrey's books for twenty years. I've tried favas both canned and dried in the past. The dried ones are okay, but you can tell that they'd be a very different thing fresh. The canned ones--just don't go there, don't buy them, they're always tinny and grey and gross, at least in my experience. Fresh ones are not gross, and they're certainly not grey:
Click for a closeup. The plump, gorgeous, velvety green beans are nestled in little beds of down inside their pods. Despite best efforts, these pictures aren't doing the real colours justice. Pale early green on the edges, melting into deeper pools of colour nearer the middle, these beans are transcendently, perfectly beautiful.
One pound yields approximately four ounces of shelled beans:
But you can't use them yet. Like the dried variety, the outer shell of the fresh favas is very leathery and tough. I'm fairly tolerant of tough skins, but tried one and had to admit that it was pretty much inedible. Madhur Jaffrey wonders in World of the East Vegetarian Cooking why fresh fava beans aren't more popular in North America. I'd venture to guess this is why: in order to make them edible, you have to boil them for five minutes or so, then run them under cold water to cool them:
|See how the skins are kind of loosening from the inner bean?|
Here's what you end up with:
Oh, that green! Surprisingly, because they look heavy, the skins don't seem to weigh much, so the inner beans from one pound of fresh favas still come to just under four ounces.
|Also at H&W, they had some lovely tomatillos!|
It's topped with mung bean sprouts I made myself so I could at least watch something growing. Yum!